A divisional bench of the Sindh High Court on Friday declared the power of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) chairman to suspend the licenses of television channels as illegal.
The ruling comes after a petition was filed by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) through advocate Faisal Siddiqui.
“We declare that the powers of PEMRA under section 30 PEMRA could not be delegated to Chairman or any other official of PEMRA by dint of section 13 PEMRA ordinance for suspension of broadcast media licences without framing of rules,” said the judgement by the high court.
“Hence forth, the decision of Authority to this extent conveyed by minutes dates 24th April 2020 is also declared null and void. Consequently all action taken by Chairman pursuant to the delegated powers of suspension of broadcast licenses are struck down.”
Earlier in March, the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) expressed concern over the PEMRA directive regarding reporting of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) activities and termed it as a “transgression of the canons of press freedom and free speech”.
The CPNE asserted that PEMRA has, through this directive, barred the TV channel administrations from airing all analysis and comments regarding NAB activities in their current affairs programmes and news bulletins.
The CPNE declared the PEMRA directive a grave violation of Article 19 and sub-clause 19-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that guarantees the common citizen’s inalienable right to information.